Inmate ordered released after DNA tests

UPI, Dec. 6, 2002
http://www.upi.com/

BATON ROUGE, La., Dec. 6 (UPI) — A Louisiana inmate was ordered released from prison Friday after DNA tests indicated he served 16 years for a rape he did not commit.

State District Judge Michael Erwin ordered that Gene Bibbins be freed after hearing that two DNA tests had found that he was not the rapist who attacked a 13-year-girl in 1986 at Baton Rouge. He was ordered to post a $5,000 bond until the results were official.

Bibbins was expected to be released to his family later in the day after posting the bond and signing some release papers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary. His conviction will be removed from court records when the results are official.

The first DNA test conducted in November indicated that Bibbins was not the rapist and then a second test conducted this week by the East Baton Rouge Parish district attorney confirmed it. The district attorney did not oppose Bibbins released.

Bibbins’ family members were overjoyed when they heard the second test had confirmed that he was innocent as they had always insisted.

“Hallelujah,” sister Carolyn Bibbins told the Baton Rouge Advocate.

His daughter, Esclamonda White, said her father’s release was more good news for the family. She recently learned she is pregnant with her third child.

“He’ll be able to help you raise this one,” Carolyn Bibbins told her niece.

Gene Bibbins was the first Louisiana inmate to be freed under a new state law that gives convicts access to DNA testing if they can show a judge they may be innocent. An inmate is given four years to make his case for testing under the law.

A jury took less than an hour to convict Bibbins in 1987 after hearing police reports and testimony that pointed to him as the rapist.

Although the victim identified Bibbins, defense attorneys believe the key to his wrongful conviction was a stolen radio found in his possession. The radio had been taken from the room where the girl was raped but Bibbins said he found it behind the building.

Bibbens was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated rape and 30 years for aggravated burglary.

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